Tag Archives: Writing

#NOIRBARYYC Noir At The Bar Calgary – June 23. Get Hip.

Come on down and check out some of Calgary’s best crime fiction writers reading, drinking and raising hell. Dark and noirish fiction, prizes, shenanigans… booze, bullets and broads. Criminal mischief and literary badassery from Calgary’s best Crime Fiction Writers. Maybe even a sneak preview of the upcoming Alberta crime anthology AB NEGATIVE!

If you happen to be in and around the Calgary, AB area, come join the delirium. We’re looking for author/readers with criminally excellent work to share, and an audience full of lovers of the dark, mysterious and hardboiled.



3715 51st street SW, Calgary, Alberta T3E 6V2

You can also join our NoirBarYYC group on Facebook

And keep tabs on us by searching #NoirBarYYC on Twitter or FB



The Bloody Valentine blog hop and FREE books!

Mega-talented author and pal, A.F. Stewart is throwing her annual VD shindig (Valentine’s Day, you bastards) and I’ve been invited to share a little madness and get in on the topic of Bad Bad Love.

Head over to ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK to meet some of the other Dark Lovelies involved (including many of the usual suspects, like Amy K. Marshall, Nina D’Arcangela, Clarissa Johal, Barbara Custer and Chris Verstraete)

Though you should be sure to check out ALL of the players!

As usual, I am running like a decapitated chicken ass-backwards through an endless maze of crazed convolution, so bear with me. I will be back later with a new poem, an extraction from this months ASAM (geared especially towards “Women in Horror Month”) and giving away a few e-book copies of Hot Sinatra and the EXCLUSIVE only-get-it-here companion collection Deconstructing Moss (which is as goddamned romantic as you can get).


Speaking of Women in Horror month, check out this list on The Examiner of top Female Horror Writers (including a ton of friends and colleagues like The McHugh and the aforementioned D’Arcangela, as well as Carole Gill, Mercedes Yardley, Leigh M. Lane, Lori Lopez and the incredible Billie Sue Mosiman. My list would include C.W. LaSart, Red Tash and the incomparable Amy Marshall, but that’s me đŸ˜‰

So until I return, why not drop me a little anecdote about your WORST date, WORST V-Day or WORST anti-love connection.

SIX of you are going to WIN BIG!

Coffin Hop Art Show! Axel Howerton Coffin Hop Sched!

So the Big To-Do starts in two weeks and I thought I’d give y’all a heads-up…

I want to throw an art show for the #CoffinHop

So get to work on your brightest, boldest and bad-assinest  objet d’art and get ready to submit it to my #CoffinHop gallery right here on AxelHowerton.com, I will provide the email addy for submission on the 24th.

Any kind of art, sculpture, fingerpaint, oils, acrylics, peanut-butter jelly on toast… doesn’t matter. I’ll make a gallery for the pics of all of your masterpieces and we will take votes-by-comment. The winner gets an original Axel Howerton acrylic-on-canvass of themselves transformed into some horroriffic legend.  Maybe you’re a Norman-in-Drag, a Frankenstein’s Manservant, or a hunchbacked Igor with a high heel fetish…

The winner of the art contest will also receive an autographed copy of DEATH BY DRIVE-IN (signed only by me, but whatchagonnado? Gorram expensive postal service, right?)

Also receiving an autographed copy of DBD, as well as a horde of other Axel Howerton books and swaggarillo will be the Best Hopper of the Week (visitor) on my site, as chosen by ME. There will also be a BEST IN HOP prize, including the 2013 Reaper Award for the Most Excellent Hopper (member). Previous winners include Red Tash and Julie Jansen.

Here’s some other highlights I have planned for AxelHowerton.com (subject to change, substitution and food-poisoning related dietary restriction) :

Oct 24 – Announcing CH2013, Death By Drive-In and the CH Art Show

Oct 25 – Some kind of shenanigans involving the giveaway of (2) sets of Living Dead at Zigfreidt & Roy and Career Guide to Your Job in Hell ebooks

Oct 26 – Movie Day! This years live-tweet monstrosity? The legend that is The Crow: Wicked Prayer! Mayhaps with extra Scott Phillips and guest Ramone!

Oct 27 – Poetry on the Fly! You show me yours and I’ll show you mine. Let It Snow and Clones Fairies and Monsters in the Closet giveaways

Oct 28 – Hot Sinatra, Deconstructing Moss and a new Moss Cole story?!

Oct 29 – TBD, Maybe a whole new horror short story?

Oct 30 – Devil’s Night! Who is Doktor Gravotronik?

Oct 31 – The Big NIght. Somebody wins an entire Axel Howerton e-library!!!

Nov 1 – Wrap-up and Art Show / GP Winners – 2013 Reaper Award Winner announcement!

#RIPDutch – A legend in his time.

DutchI know it seems pat, and trite, and quite possibly the worst kind of hollow hipness to have emotions about the passing of a celebrity you’ve never met. It seems disingenuous at best, batshit crazy at worst. When you’re an actor, you tend to feel those feels for your legendary icons – the Brandos and O’Tooles and Zach Galligans (Wait, what? He’s not?) As a painter, or a photographer or an artist of any stripe, you mourn the loss of your predecessors, your betters and your gods. Maybe it’s the same for investment bankers and lawyers. It’s more likely that they burn effigies and pray to the Elder Gods, but who knows, right?

I’ll admit, I usually shed at least a few tears during the Oscar night “Those We’ve Lost” segment, and I got choked up, same as you, over Fred Rogers and Captain Kangaroo. They took a little bit of our childhood with them when they headed out the door into the Great Beyond. As a writer, however, my deities have always bled ink and sweat words. I spent a good week in semi-drunken reminiscence of the great HST, who filled my adolescence and misspent twenties with the proper amounts of rebellion and paranoia. I hung my head in reverence when I heard about Richard Matheson and Sendak and Parker and that bastard David Foster Wallace. And you’d better believe I bawled like a goddamned baby when news broke about Ray Bradbury, a man I met, a man I admired, an inarguable GOD among writers. None of those, not even the Almighty Ray, came close to being as heartbreaking as the news today that Dutch Leonard finally took that Big Adios.

I can quite honestly say, with absolute conviction, that I would not even be a writer if it weren’t for Elmore Leonard.

I have loved books as far back as my memory can carry me, digging through musty hundred-year-old tomes in my grandparents dirt basement at four, or five years old. I had apparently more or less taught myself to read by the age of four (with the assistance of Sesame Street and the aforementioned Mister Rogers, as well as the Canadian mainstay The Friendly Giant). I devoured fiction as a child, everything from Madeleine L’Engle to Frank Herbert, Stevenson to Poe, Dickens to Tolkein and all points in between. Leading into, and throughout my adolescence, my interests shifted to film and, as has been frequently documented, I was fully intending to go to film school and become part of the new wave of auteurs of the 90’s. That didn’t quite happen. What did happen, was that my lifelong love affair with dark, yet funny fiction, typified by Elmore Leonard, led me back to the written word and, eventually, to my first novel, HOT SINATRA and characters like Foxy Thunders and Manlove & Kickerdick. I lay all the blame, and give all the credit, to Dutch.

My first Elmore Leonard experience was stumbling across an apparently dog-eaten hardcover copy of Double Dutch Treat, a triple-feature of early Leonard crime novels The Moonshine War, Gold Coast and City Primeval. I’d been out skulking around the pawn shops and DDTsecond hand stores on Edmonton’s 99 street strip. I was twelve. I had a hellacious high reading level, I’d been sneaking my (other) grandmother’s paperback copies of Stephen King and Robert McCammon, and had even snuck a few steamy bits nobody new about – Jackie Collins and torrid “romance” novels full of ripped bodices and throbbing cocks. But this book, this big, fat, red beast of a book… this was real-world shit, man. Sultry babes, dirty crooks, hard Detroit brothers committing murder and robbing white dudes in suits. No imaginary worlds, living cars, creepy ghost twins, vampires or werewolves, no magic, no florid descriptions of female genitalia I’d yet to see and couldn’t quite fathom as real. This was brutal, final, bust-ups in a downtown alley, real-world shit. And it was funny. Funny like Richard Pryor movies and Rockford Files, but also real, like it could be going on in that house down the street, the one where the lawn was mostly gravel, and the fence was rust-blotchy galvanized steel, with that powdery white crud that tore up your jeans. The house with the peeling paint and nobody ever came out through the front door, always the back, and always three different junky fords parked behind it, right up into the yard and close to what must have been the kitchen. It scared the shit out of me, man. And it was exhilarating.

I picked up new Dutch books wherever I could find them – used book stores, garage sales, flea markets – usually they wouldn’t sell them to me at the bookstore, not until I hit sixteen or so, by which time I was engrossed with the pretensions of youth, showing off with Kerouack and Henry Miller and special order copies of Naked Lunch. I always went back to Dutch though. Throughout all of my varied love affairs with different genres, I always went back to Dutch. Maximum Bob, Mr. Majestyk, 52 Pickup, Stick… and I was always buggered at how many of his books were made into movies and nobody knew. Then came Get Shorty and Rum Pun… I mean… Jackie Brown. Then people started to really pay attention to old Dutch.

By the time I’d come out the other end of my failed non-attempt at a film career, gone through University, wasted many a year in retail jobs and half-careers in Records and Warehousing and Bullshit and Junk, Dutch was still there, my shelves bursting with hardcovers and softcovers, paperbacks crammed into every crevasse, spilling out in the corners, I was as enamored with his westerns and his short stories and his general attitude and workmanship that I thought I’d take a crack at writing again. Then he became my teacher. The dialogue, the characters, the layered emotion and barely-checked fury that pushed dudes like Ordell Robbie and Louis Gara and Ray Nicolette and Judge Bob Gibbs and Dennis Lenahan and Raylan Givens and Richie Nix and the goddamned Blackbird, to do the sometimes-crazy, always dangerous shit they do. He gave us strong women like Karen Sisco and Carmen Colson and Jackie Burke. Go read the title story of When The Women Come Out To Dance to see one of the best examples of a man writing female characters properly.  There is also no better treatise on writing than his 10 Rules of Writing.

ParadiseI’ve spent so much time with Elmore Leonard over the years, I honestly do feel as if I know the man, even a very little bit. I feel his lessons in my bones when I set out to write, especially when I hear the dialogue rattling off between two characters. I’ve watched his interviews and studied his style. He’s the only author I ever deigned to order an autographed book for. Every other signed book I have, I met that writer face to face and took their measure for myself before asking for that little secret symbol, that seal of brother (or sister) hood hidden between the front pages of their blood and sweat. Dutch Leonard is the one writer that I couldn’t take the chance of never meeting, of never having that little personal connection to. So I sit here now, with a scotch in one hand, lightly salted with stray tears, and find myself stuck on that page, in the front of a pristine copy of Mr. Paradise, with his scribble under the title. I can’t bring myself to turn the page until I’ve put these thoughts down and given him the time he deserves. The time he earned with more than 40 books and a career that lasted six decades. Here’s to ya, Dutch. You are already missed.